by Colleen Berlingieri
I was in a bookstore the other day when I saw the title of a book that almost made me snort latte out of my nose. It was called Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall? by Dr. Anthony E. Wolf PhD.
This title is a perfect description of my current reality with my son.
Skills vs. Swagger
Geordi has a developmental disability. He does not read, has difficulty writing, has a speech disorder, and struggles with both fine and gross motor tasks. Luckily for him, what he lacks in actual skills he makes up for in SWAGGER. Geordi is a legend in his own mind, a rockstar and pretty much the coolest guy on the planet.
Can you see the problem? The stark contrast between his level of functioning and his level of confidence makes up for an endless stream of confrontations:
Yes Geordi, I understand that you want to watch YouTube, but you keep clicking every button on the keyboard and now I can’t figure out how to get the language setting off of Mandarin Chinese…
Dude, I know you want to drive a car, but you have seizures plus you have to know a lot of things in order to drive—like your left from your right—why don’t we just start by working on getting those shoes on the correct feet…
I get it G, it would be awesome to work at a dealership, but selling cars takes some training. Maybe we could see if you could start by cleaning up the customer waiting area or something like that…
Every day Geordi and I butt heads and he often takes his frustration out on me. Instead of understanding that his own limitations keep him from doing what he wants, he reasons that it is Mom telling him what to do again.
It is exasperating and often makes me weary, but I have to admit that I secretly love this about him. His confidence keeps him trying, reaching and moving forward. And that, combined with his perseverance, has enabled him to do things that I never thought he would be able to.
My Aha Moment
I smiled as I flipped through Dr. Wolf’s book. I realized that my situation isn’t unlike most parents out there. The context may be different, however the struggle is the same. As parents, we often find ourselves in a delicate balancing act of either encouraging our kids to take the next step or helping them to realize that they may not be ready for it.
So, from now on, whenever I am up on that high wire trying to keep my balance, I resolve to:
- take a deep breath and remember that I am not alone
- be grateful that my atypical son is acting in such a typical way
- not take his Get Out of My Life attitude personally because it is evidence of his continued growth towards independence
It’s a lot to remember, especially in the heat of the moment, but I am determined to try.
So until next time, thank you for listening! And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and drive Geordi and his friend to the mall…♥
Colleen Berlingieri is a Mom, & Disability Advocate . She lives in Plymouth Michigan with her husband Tony, her two sons, (Geo & Jake), & their rescue dog Andi. Their family owns the FATWHEELS brand that makes adaptive training wheels that enable individuals with balance issues to ride a typical bike. Colleen’s dedication to raising her family & empowering individuals with disabilities is her life’s work and the driving force behind her company & all that she does.